Stock pickers are generally looking for stocks that will outperform the broader market. And the truth is, you can make significant gains if you buy good quality businesses at the right price. To wit, the Grainger share price has climbed 53% in five years, easily topping the market return of 8.8% (ignoring dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven’t been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 37% , including dividends .
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company’s share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
Over half a decade, Grainger managed to grow its earnings per share at 1.8% a year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 8.9% per year, over the same period. So it’s fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. And that’s hardly shocking given the track record of growth.
The company’s earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here.
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Grainger the TSR over the last 5 years was 85%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
It’s nice to see that Grainger shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 37% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That’s better than the annualised return of 13% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. For example, we’ve discovered 3 warning signs for Grainger (1 is a bit concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will grow earnings.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB exchanges.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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